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Revies: The Danton Case

PARIS at the end of the 18th Century and revolution is in the air. The people want a leader, they need someone to believe in.

But is their next potential master just a distorted version of the current one, fuelled by a similar greed for power?

In an intricate structure of plots and counterplots, the city's patricians are all corrupt, greedy, devious, abusive, disloyal ... . Sound familiar?

Director Jan Klata has taken a lesser known Polish play by Stanislawa Przybyszewska and transformed it into a radical and volatile work of theatre that makes direct comment on Polish life post-communism, post-revolution and also on political situations much closer to home.

The titular Danton is the eloquent orator, the man who can raise the troops with the persuasive potency of his prose.

His rival, the dishevelled Robespierre, who accurately describes his appearance as resembling a "giant dandelion clock", initially seems more snivelling.

But we soon learn that this foppish frailty is actually his most devious device as he persuades others to act for him, to fight for him.

And when he is forced to confront his ultimate adversary, in the most inspirationally tempestuous political face-off, he reveals a spine of cold steel.

Unlike the other two Polish plays in this festival, this has a more traditional structure, a beginning, middle and even an end.

But that is where its compliance with custom ends. Klata puts much emphasis on complex choreography and also on a soundtrack that ranges from Tracy Chapman and Boy George to 'La Marseillaise'.

The real anthem, however, is Marc Bolan's 'Children of The Revolution'.

Although it hinges on the penetrating performances of Wieslaw Cichy as Danton and Marcin Czarnik as his rival Robespierre this Polski Teatre in Wroclaw production is very much an ensemble work, infused with depictions of potency, passion, pathos and even pantomime.

This is brave anarchy, this is visionary theatre. Viva la Revolution!